Now Take Your Facial Muscles to the Gym

Many of us exercise with enthusiasm and challenging goals in mind. This Lightning Bikes Phantom II is my favorite steed when it’s time to fire up my muscles:

Perhaps you prefer going to the gym. Or swimming. Or fencing! Or perhaps you’re insanely tough and you prefer rugby. Whatever the specific means, one of our goals if we exercise regularly is to maintain muscle tone.

What about the muscles of our face, though? Do we ever take them for a workout? For most of us, the answer is likely ‘no.’

There are some fourteen muscles that directly move our jaws. Exercising them regularly has surprising benefits.

Our facial muscles contour and shape our faces. Facial exercises can help us maintain a more youthful look as we age, by preventing a sagging neckline and even minimizing wrinkles. Facial muscle exercises relieve tension, increase collagen production and may reduce wrinkles.

There are various approaches to exercising the facial muscles, including techniques derived from the practice of yoga. In dentistry, we can gain benefits from a surprising quarter: chewing sugarless gum.

Sugarless gum has several potential benefits:
—The act of powering down and chewing gum gives those jaw muscles what amounts to a good aerobic workout;
—Gum has a mechanical cleansing effect on dental plaque, similar to brushing our teeth;
—Chewing gum can raise the pH in the mouth, and as we’ve learned, less acidity in the oral environment is always a good thing;
—And finally, the xylitol sweeteners in most sugarless gum is absolutely deadly to our nemesis Strep mutans, the germ that causes tooth decay via its outrageous acid production when it encounters simple sugars.

Food choice makes a difference too. The simple act of eating substantial foods like nuts, raw vegetables and so on does a lot more for muscle tone than all those soft foods (so many white carbs!) that the Industrial Revolution has foisted upon us.

Or, to put it all another way:

Don’t steam your carrots.

Richard Wilson DMD